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June 7, 2015 11:15 am

Campus Antisemitism, Decades in the Making: A Teacher’s Perspective

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Swastikas were posted on various buildings at the University of Cape Town this week. Photo: Facebook.

Swastikas at the University of Cape Town. Photo: Facebook. – Some claimed to be “shocked” at the beginning of the school year when swastikas were found painted on the walls of Nock Middle School, located at the Newburyport School District in Boston. This was preceded by an antisemitic video made to insult a Jewish student. To be honest, with the public schools turning a blind eye to antisemitism and progressive educators regarding Israel with great disdain, I wouldn’t be surprised if teachers encouraged the video.

You can call me crazy, but in my experience as a public educator, antisemitism is rampant in the public education system. When I taught in Costa Mesa, California in the late 1990s, I particularly remember another history teacher admit that she avoids the lesson on Israel. Keep in mind that this teacher was promoted as the lead sixth-grade core teacher.

My experience a couple of years later, teaching in Glendale, Calif. was no different. A Jewish student of mine received several antisemitic threats and was beaten and bullied for the whole school year. The students who hurt her weren’t punished in the same way a white student harassing an African-American student would be. To make things worse, other teachers made antisemitic comments about the student as well. I made the administration aware of the antisemitism coming from one particular teacher, but nothing was done.

It certainly doesn’t help the situation when student teachers at universities organize to preach hatred toward Israel. Recently, student workers at the University of California (UC) organized a “pro-Palestinian“ group and issued the following statement:

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“We are teaching assistants, tutors, and other student-workers at the University of California represented by UAW 2865. We have a responsibility as educators to both learn about and teach the social issues of our time, including pressing global struggles such as the struggle of the Palestinian people for liberation from settler-colonialism and apartheid.”

The antisemitism at UC campuses is legendary, especially over the past couple of years. Earlier this year, students at UC Davis awoke to swastikas painted on their fraternity house. Emily Shire of the Daily Beast recently asked if America’s colleges were breeding antisemitism. She noted that at UC Berkeley—a place where the word “Israel” isn’t uttered without hatred—swastikas regularly displayed on doors and other locations are, according to Jewish students, not taken seriously enough by the administration. One particular slogan read, “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber.”

Once again, as a former educator, this isn’t surprising to me, to say the least. When educators teach “tolerance” these days, it’s all geared toward the LGBTQ community, African-Americans, Latinos, and Muslims. Tolerance toward Jews (or even Christians) is only taught indirectly, such as having the class read The Diary of Anne Frank. One teacher I worked with said she refused to spend much time on it since she believed the book was mostly fiction. And she’s still teaching at the same school!

Many educators will claim that although they are against Zionism, they are not necessarily antisemitic. There are blurred lines here, especially when the same educators revise history and teach students that Israel is similar to Nazi Germany in many ways. This is why millennials have contributed so much to Jew-hatred. It’s all based on lies they learned in their classrooms. Perhaps if Jews demonstrated on college campuses with the same effrontery as anti-Israel protesters, this wouldn’t be happening.

Daryl Deino is a former public school teacher recovering from his years working in the public education system of Southern California. A technology and new media expert, Daryl’s byline can be found in numerous publications offering his review of the latest gadgets and his perspective on free speech, anti-Semitism, and equal rights. Follow him on Twitter @ddeino.

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  • Steven Colodny

    I enjoyed your write up, and agree that the rising tide of anti-semitism on campuses has been years if not decades in the making, but I don’t agree with your very last sentence which in essence is blaming young Jews for the anti-semitism they are facing. That’s neither fair or an honest portrayal of what’s going on. Have to keep in mind that Jews are far outnumbered by non-Jews on virtually every campus in the US (outside of maybe New York). As an active Jew and Israel supporter on campus, I can tell you it’s an uphill battle because we’re dealing with anti-Israel propaganda, trendy hashtag movements, and more. Stuff that young people who don’t know about Israel beforehand easily buy into. You’d think it would make it easier to debunk, and it does in ways, but a cult-like following is created around “pro-Palestine” movements (it’s really anti-Israel movements) and cults / hate-groups don’t see logic and reason. They can literally say anything that demonizes Israel, free of fact. In saying that, there is an intimidating atmosphere for young Jews and it takes time and facing anti-semitism themselves (which is increasing) to realize there is a real problem. With programs like Birthright growing in popularity, and FB pages supporting Israel becoming more popular in the US, don’t throw young Jews (who are coping with the modern anti-semitism and obsessive, compulsive anti-Israel hatred) under the bus just yet.